If an attractive, charming young man approached you in a public area and asked you to help him unload his sailboat, would you say yes? What if his arm was in a plastic cast, and he asked for help packing boxes into his car? How about if he claimed he was a police officer, showed you a badge, and said you had to come down the station and fill out a report?
Due to Ted Bundy's amiable appearance, he was able to con college educated young women to accompany him to secluded locations. Once they arrived, he sexually assaulted them, murdered them, committed necrophilia and mutilated their corpses. If he was ugly and acted like a jerk, he probably wouldn't have been such a successful serial killer.
Thirty years after Ted Bundy was executed, his story has become almost mythic. Between 1974 and 1978, he murdered at least thirty young women in at least seven states. He escaped from prison twice, represented himself at his murder trial and claimed he was innocent up until the very end. Days before he fried in the electric chair, he finally confessed to his crimes, but was hardly repentant.
In the upcoming biopic, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Hollywood heartthrob Zac Efron plays the notorious serial killer. Last weekend, the movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and critics raved about Efron's performance, a departure from his roles in lighthearted fare like Neighbors, Baywatch and High School Musical. However, the film also sparked a serious discussion: Is Efron's portrayal glamorizing Bundy?
On January 15, 1978, 20-year-old Kathy Kleiner Rubin was attacked by Ted Bundy in her Florida State University dorm room, and survived. In a comprehensive interview with Rolling Stone, she described how the monster sneaked into her bedroom at 3am and brutalized her and her roommate with a club. But before he could rain down the death blows, a passing car flooded the room with light, scaring him away.
So, how does a Ted Bundy survivor feel about Zac Efron's portrayal? "I don't have a problem with people looking at it, and as long as they understand that what they're watching wasn't a normal person," Rubin told TMZ. "I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was, it's not really glorifying him, but it's showing him, and when they do say positive and wonderful things about him... that's what they saw, that's what Bundy wanted you to see."
She continued, "Hopefully it will make women more aware of their surroundings and be cautious. He had different tactics that he used for people to help him get in cars or do things, and in your gut you just feel that something doesn't feel right."
It's easy to say that Ted Bundy looks creepy now, but you might not have thought that in the 1970's. If there's a lesson to be learned from this true crime story, it's that you should never judge a book by its cover - even if it looks like Zac Efron.